Expungement is the act of striking out, obliterating, or marking something for deletion. In legal processes, what is expunged is a person’s criminal records, treating these records as if they did not at any time in the past exist. Arizona does not have a true expungement statute, as in some other State. Arizona has a “Set Aside” statute. If the court has cleared you of all charges, or you have served your time and paid the fines stated in your sentence, it is only just that the system allows you to get a fresh start.
RequirementsThere are specific criteria to meet before once can file a petition to set aside a conviction. These criteria may include:
- Satisfying terms of conviction (jail time, fines, restitution, etc.)
- Providing evidence of clean record after a conviction
- Showing the court evidence of rehabilitation and contribution to the good of society (volunteer work, education, employment, etc.)
- Although there is no statutory time frame, many courts may have a waiting period from the completion of all the terms of the conviction before it will entertain a set-aside.
Expunging a Criminal Record in ArizonaTechnically, AZ law does not provide for an expungement of criminal records. One’s records will stay in the books until he/she reaches the age of 99, even if probation terms have already been met. Check Ariz. Admin. Code R13-1-102 (2018). However, one who is seeking an expungement may opt for a judge to “set aside” their conviction, where some of the benefits of a full expungement can also be acquired. At the very least, the judge will void your conviction. As part of the court’s decision, the judge must be convinced that it is in the best interest that your conviction is set aside. Furthermore, the judge must have a strong belief that approving the petition is “consistent with the public welfare.'' However, voiding your conviction does not mean the charge and the conviction you received will be deleted from the records. Your future employer might want to check on you, and if he does check on your criminal records, he would see the set-aside order that specifies that you were able to fulfill your probation or sentence terms, that the court vacated your conviction, and that the charges filed against you have been dismissed. Certain conditions disqualify a person from having their petition approved, such as:
- Commission of a dangerous offence
- Commission of a crime where you were required to register as a sex offender
- Conviction where the offence involves a “finding of sexual motivation” - “Finding of sexual motivation” means that one of the purposes for committing the crime was sexual gratification
- Offence committed against a person under 15 years old
- Certain driving offences
Process of Felony ExpungementThere are fees to pay to the court, and courts usually post the payment details on their websites. If you have multiple criminal cases, you will have to pay for each separately. Following your application, the prosecutors involved in your case will be notified about your intent. Whether or not an objection from them is raised, the judge will proceed and decide on the application to set aside without a hearing. Therefore it is important to present the request with all the information needed to give the judge reason to grant the application. Filing out the form for the set aside is not enough. It is important to get letters from employers, friends and family about how much your life has been turned around and your road toward rehabilitation. The judge needs to know how important it is that the set aside to be granted for you. Without it, you may lose the chance to gain employment and lose future opportunities that will come your way. The judge will decide either in favor of set aside, which means your conviction will be rendered void or against it, which, in this case, means that your request is denied.
Robert A. Dodell, Attorney at Law – Get Legal HelpThe rules for setting aside criminal records in Arizona are complicated. To learn more about it, get help from Robert, an experienced criminal defense , bringing in over 30 years of solid practice in every legal case that he handles - fervently defending his clients’ rights.
10601 N Hayden Rd, #I-103
Scottsdale, AZ 85260